Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Drop me a line
(Image from arfsc. homestead. com)
"...I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers..."
Ephesians 1:16 is a great reminder of the importance of praying for others—and letter writing! Over the Advent season and into Christmas week, I've received many Christmas cards, letters and photos from friends and family all over the country. It's been greatly encouraging to hear from old friends, catch up on news and see what is going in their lives. If I'm totally honest though, I'd say what I love best about receiving these letters is the flood of warmth that rushes over me when I find them in my mailbox—it's such an encouragement to be remembered and connected with others!
In the New Testament, 13 of the 27 books are written in letter form. Letters were the primary means of early missionaries to communicate with their church members back home. These letters were used to encourage, redirect, challenge and help Christians to continue to grow in their faith, even when separated by great distances and challenging circumstances. This art of letter writing is one that has been adapted with the technical advances of email, instant messaging, social networking and Skype; but even as an enthusiastic participant in modern forms of communication, I still find there is something special about receiving a letter. The tangible action of holding, opening, reading, re-reading and saving a letter that reminds the recipient that they are cared for by the writer of that letter.
In this day of constant quick and instant communication, I've begun to think about reviving the slower but tangible act of letter writing for encouragement, faith formation, and mission. Who within our church communities are most affected by distance and challenging circumstances? I'd like to suggest that the largest population of people impacted by disconnect, distance, and separation is our College/Career/Young Adults. Due to increased need for higher and higher education, many young people seek economically sound work placement and education far away from their home congregations. These young people are striving to make their way in fast paced and new environments as a growing rite of passage.
In light of all this transition, young adults could greatly benefit from a connection to a caring, prayerful adult via the means of simple, old-fashioned, faith inspiring, letter writing! Adults have a great opportunity to reach out. The simple act of fostering Christian community through letter writing communicates the message that the recipient is: cared for, prayed over, and important enough to receive a tangible sign from his or her faith community. Letter writing reminds all of us who we are, who we are connected to, and how circumstance and distance don't have to separate us from our community of faith.
In this New Year, consider taking a chance to slow down in one form of communication. Write a letter to a young person that might be feeling forgotten by the distance, pace and challenge of transition into adulthood. The letter you write may be the lifeline they were looking for. Give it a try—drop a line.
If you are interested in participating in letter writing ministry to young adults with First Lutheran Church, please send an email—kind of ironic, I know—to firstname.lastname@example.org.